Monday, May 11, 2009

Kicking Off Food Allergy Awareness Week with the new FDA Chief

To kick off Food Allergy Awareness Week, I thought I'd include a link to a profile of the new FDA Chief, Margaret Hamburg. The FDA is a huge part of food-allergic consumers lives, like it or not, since we're so reliant on food labels.

With regard to accurate food labels for allergic consumers as well as a lot of other major concerns (salmonella anyone?), this woman has her work cut out for her. However, looking at her credentials, she looks like she can do the job.

I'm curious. If you could, what would you like to ask this new FDA Chief? For example, I'd love to know when food labels with regard to allergies will become standardized. "May contains" is pretty straightforward (though many of us, according to studies I've read and statements posted here, don't heed those) and "Made on equipment with" is also understandable. The one I hate is "processed in a facility with." That could mean the food is a "do" or a "don't" but it leaves way too much room for interpretation by the consumer in my opinion. I mean, if many don't heed "may contain" then likely they will bypass "made in a facility with."

I'd also like to ask her to ensure that food allergy labels are not overly inclusive,-- one label I saw (and posted about last September) listed all top 8 allergens on a container of decorating sugar for baking. We definitely want fair warnings, but food allergic consumers are so limited in their choices that we don't want to be opted out of potentially safe foods just because a company doesn't want to bother with us.

I'm hopeful things will improve overall with this changing of the guard and let's make sure it does by asking questions of companies and answering the FDA when they ask for our input as they did this past January. I'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

Jane Anne said...

I appreciate the link. I need to be better about staying up on this type information. I cannot think of another question besides the one you posed about the allergy warnings on food labels. I agree with that one so much. It's frustrating because it is so unregulated.

It is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Read my latest allergy post: Kindergarten Orientation was Exciting